Chemical Recycling makes Waste Plastic a Resource
1 March 2019: With an eye toward a circular economy, technology developers are advancing a host of new approaches to chemical recycling of post-use commodity plastics.
Increasingly, the sheer volume of plastics produced (estimated at well over 300 million metric tons annually) presents environmental risks if the material is not captured, and represents a waste of resources if the material is disposed of in landfills. Currently, only a small fraction of commodity plastics are recycled globally (some estimates peg the number at 14%), while the majority end up in landfills, incinerators or in the environment, particularly the ocean.
The majority of plastic-recycling processes today are mechanical, where waste thermoplastic material from end-use products are melted and used as a component of another manufactured product. While improvements continue to be made in this area (for example, in spectral identification and sorting of plastic items), it is clear that mechanical recycling processes alone are not sufficient to handle the volume of plastic recycling that is required to shift society toward a circular economy with regard to plastic.
The limitations of existing recycling processes and the push toward circular economy ideals has driven development of chemical recycling processes — those in which polymers are taken back to their monomers. This class of processes need to be developed and deployed at scale to complement existing mechanical recycling efforts. NOVA’s Thayer comments: “One hundred percent of plastics should be reused, recycled or recovered and regenerated. We believe that chemical monomer recovery is the best long-term solution, where end-of-life plastics become feedstock that is chemically indistinguishable from fossil-fuel-sourced monomer.”
Several advancements in chemical recycling processes, including several technologies that have recently been, or are soon to be, scaled up are presented in the article.
PET Upcycling; Making Mixed Streams Work;
Products from Pyrolysis Oil; Supply Chain Changes;
Recycling Hurdles; Projects for Flexible Plastic Packaging
Plastic Waste Recycling: the CreaSolv® Process
Editor: Following on from the Note in the previous edition I have been alerted by a colleague to the CreaSolv® Process.
“Proprietary CreaSolv® Formulations with the lowest risk potential possible for user and environment (ideally not to be classified according to GHS criteria) dissolve selectively the target polymer. This reduces besides the hazard also the cost for the equipment.
After cleaning “it of” impurities the desired polymer precipitates when a special CreaSolv® Precipitation agent is added.
The ingredients of our formulations are commercially available and are not research products.”
The above Notes are from the Hazmat & Environment Notes newsletters
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